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A challenging ‘bag of worms’: adolescent varicocele

Younis, Ihab; Hamed, Ahmed

doi: 10.1097/01.XHA.0000475309.56142.c6
Review article
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About 4.6–16.2% of male adolescents may be affected by varicocele. The most important damaging effect of varicocele in adolescents is testicular growth arrest (hypotrophy). Ultrasound is more accurate compared with orchidometry in detecting hypotrophy. Histopathologically, the testis of adolescent boys affected by varicocele shows Leydig cell hyperplasia, decreased number of spermatogonia per tubule, spermatogenesis arrest, and sloughing of the germinal epithelium. Varicocele in adolescents negatively affects sperm density and motility, and this seems to be related to testicular volume. To treat or not to treat adolescent varicocele is a controversial question. This is due to conflicting reports about the effectiveness of varicocelectomy. On one hand, some studies demonstrated a significant catch-up growth of the testis but found that prophylactic varicocele repair might expose many individuals to the unnecessary risks of surgery. Furthermore, this catch up of testicular volume could be due to edema secondary to severing of lymphatics during the procedure. On the other hand, other studies found that varicocele correction in adolescents not only improved testicular hypotrophy but also improved semen quality. Complications of varicocelectomy, such as recurrence or hydrocele incidence, are less common in open varicocelectomy than in laparoscopic or percutaneous embolization when treating varicocele in adolescents.

Dermatology and Andrology Department, Faculty of Medicine, Benha University, Benha, Egypt

Correspondence to Ihab Younis, MD, 6, Soriastreet, Mohandeseen, Giza 12411, Egypt Tel: +20 101 7186419; e-mail: ihabyounis@hotmail.com

Received October 26, 2015

Accepted November 10, 2015

© 2015 Human Andrology
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